April 30, 1998
Tort reform movement advances with grass-roots, media campaigns
A coalition of small and big businesses, municipalities, and not-for-profit groups has expanded its effort to convince lawmakers to rein in the state's lawsuit industry.
New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform, which includes The Business Council and 500 others members, is arranging meetings between tort reform supporters and key legislators in their district offices.
The coalition is also briefing editorial boards at major newspapers around the state.
Lawsuit abuse was documented in a March report by The Public Policy Institute (PPI), The Council's research arm. The report is entitled An Accident and a Dream: How the Lawsuit Lottery is Distorting Justice, Costing New Yorkers Billions of Dollars Every Year.
The coalition is supporting a bill that would:
- Repeal "joint and several liability," under which defendants with only partial liability can be unfairly forced to pay all damages.
- Cap non-economic damages.
- Create a "statute of repose" to limit manufacturers' liability for products to 10 years.
- Let contractors and employers defend against lawsuits over worksite injuries by introducing evidence that the plaintiff's own negligence was a factor.